Dr. Martens Stands for Nonconformity, but Mostly for Selling Lots of Shoes

New ad reeks of try-hard marketing cool

I can't stand it! As soon as you run around telling anyone who'll listen that you're hip, subversive and rebellious, you're not. Especially if you do it in a commercial designed to sell shoes. Cue the fall/winter ad push by British footwear brand Dr. Martens and its centerpiece 90-second video by London agency Odd. The spot tries to bring the brand's "Stand for Something" slogan to life by focusing on Brits of various ages and ethnicities. They ride bikes, ice skate, go clubbing, drive cars, splash through puddles, dress in drag and generally hang out—all while wearing Dr. Martens, naturally. They say stuff like, "I stand for rising against conformity," and "I stand for being unique," and "We stand for the youth because they shape the future." (The future? Hey, Dr. Martens, 1980 called. It wants its mohawk haircuts back.)

Look, these seem like perfectly nice people, but they're still generic media types, strutting around in a promotional clip shot in a rocked-up/quick-cut style that's far too familiar. To be fair, the spot's well made and the positioning suits Dr. Martens, with its strong ties to music culture. Still, the "I/We stand for" platitudes sound like marketing-speak, especially when viewers are encouraged to share their own versions via hashtag. The attitude feels forced, and the "coolness" seems coldly calculated. Cross-dressing: How hip! Someone casually says the word "shit." Cool, baby!

Besides, Wendy Davis taught us that if you really want to #StandForSomething, and be comfortable for hours while doing it, you'd better wear Mizunos.

@DaveGian davegia@hotmail.com David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.